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Prosecutor's Office to contest Savisaar court ruling

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Chief State Prosecutor Steven-Hristo Evestus.
Chief State Prosecutor Steven-Hristo Evestus. Source: Siim Lõvi/ERR

According to Chief State Prosecutor Steven-Hristo Evestus, the Prosecutor's Office intends to contest Tuesday's Harju County Court ruling according to which the case against former longtime Centre Party chairman and Tallinn ex-mayor Edgar Savisaar was closed.

While the court claimed on Tuesday that the decision to close the part of the case concerning Savisaar due to the defendant's poor health was final and cannot be contested, according to Evestus, the Prosecutor's Office does not agree that this decision is not eligible for appeal, which is likewise supported by precedent.

"The Prosecutor's Office will definitely use its right and contest the county court's Tuesday ruling," Evestus told BNS on Wednesday.

A break will take place in the general proceeding of the case in connection with the decision of the Prosecutor's Office to contest the ruling.

Harju County Court on Tuesday decided to close the case of former longtime Centre Party chairman and Tallinn ex-mayor Edgar Savisaar at the request of defence lawyer Oliver Nääs in connection with the defendant's severe illness.

The court based its decision primarily on the expert opinion of endocrinologist Vallo Volke, according to which it could be life-threatening for Savisaar to attend hearings in his case.

University of Tartu Professor of Law agrees

Professor Jaan Ginter, Professor of Law at the University of Tartu, has echoed Evestus' comments, stating that the termination of the proceedings without appeal is at the very least controversial.

Speaking to ERR today, Ginter points out that if there is no appeal, this can only lead to a greater mistrust of the legal proceedings regarding the case in society as a whole.

Moreover there is also the question of precedent in cases where court proceedings have been appealed when they have been terminated before an actual judgement has been reached, as is the case with Mr. Savisaar's trial.

Much of what is at stake revolves around the interpretation of s 385(20) of the Criminal Proceedings Code in Estonia which states that such rulings from the court where proceedings are terminated cannot be appealed. There are exceptions to this, however, according to Professor Ginter.

There seems not to be specific provision with regard to the ending of a hearing due to serious illness, as is the case with the Savisaar trial, he says.

However Professor Ginter points out that there have been cases in the lower courts in Estonia where the termination of legal proceedings have been appealed, and this earlier case law is highly relevant.

''The lower courts, where the applications for termination of legal proceedings on this basis have so far been received, have argued that such decisions can be appealed,'' Ginter said.

The full article with Professor Ginter's opinion on the case (in Estonian) is here.

Editor: Aili Vahtla

Source: BNS

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